On February 10, 2020, Joseph Stemler, 89, passed peacefully at his home in Corona del Mar, California. His wife Marguerite (Peggy) was by his side. Joe was an extremely devout husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. His devotion to family was only exceeded by his devotion to God and his Catholic faith.
Joe was born in Eastern Europe on February 8, 1931. He enjoyed his early years with his parents, Jakob and Maria, and younger brother Rudi in rural Austria and what is now the Ukraine. Joe’s childhood was altered by World War II and at the age of 15, Joe was sent alone to the United States in order to avoid becoming a casualty of the war. Once in the United States, Joe attended Don Bosco Preparatory School in Ramsey, New Jersey. He then attended the Illinois Institute of Technology and graduated in 1952, with a B.S. Degree in Mechanical Engineering. Joe received a Masters degree in Automotive Engineering from the Chrysler Institute of Engineering and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Detroit. Joe put his education to good use and is the named inventor on many automotive and dental product patents.
Joe ‘s hard work and dedication led him to the top of the corporate world. After starting his career at Chrysler, Joe moved into the dental equipment field ultimately becoming President of Ritter Co. and Senior Vice President of Sybron Corporation in Rochester, New York. In 1978, Joe accepted a position as President of Bentley Laboratories in Irvine, California and his family all became Californians shortly thereafter. Joe was a respected executive in the biotech field and held leadership positions at American Hospital Supply Corporation, Quidel Corporation, La Jolla Pharmaceutical and Sunrise Medical, among others. Joe was also involved with the Young Presidents’ Organization and World Presidents’ Organization through which he made lifelong friends and traveled the world. Joe concluded his professional career serving on the Board of Directors of Scholle Corporation.
Despite his demanding career, Joe always made time for his faith and family. No matter what remote part of the world Joe was in, he never missed Sunday mass. Because Joe was an avid skier, Joe and the Stemler Family often attended Saturday night mass in after-ski boots fresh off the slopes. Joe’s faith was further demonstrated by his passion for stain glass windows. Catholic churches in Newport Beach (Queen of Angels and St. John Vianney on Balboa Island), Carson City, and Los Angeles (USC Chapel) all have beautiful stain glass windows donated by Joe and Peggy.
Joe was an avid outdoorsman as well. He loved boating, skiing, and, later in life, golf. He was also a passionate gardener. Joe’s hillside masterpieces are legendary, including his multi-year hillside creation on Dolphin Terrace which still draws admiration from those passing by on Bayside Drive. We know that Joe is now working his magic in heaven taking care of God’s gardens. Joe loved his family. He loved his wife Peggy. They were married for 66 years and had three sons, Paul, Jim and Bob. Joe organized numerous family trips and was most happy when everyone was gathered together. Eventually, the family grew to include three daughter in-laws, seven grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Joe will always be remembered as a man of devotion. Joe is survived by his wife Peggy, his children Paul, Jim and Bob, his daughters- in- law, Polly, Kathleen and Janet, his grandchildren, Phil and his wife Whitney, Peter, Pierce, Kelly, Katie, Lian and Reed, his great grandchildren, Wyatt, Weston, Kaila and Weston, and his brother Rudi and sister-in-law, Anneliese.